A national retailer is poised to make Carlisle its headquarters, bringing 300 new jobs to the city.

The News & Star can reveal that clothing chain Edinburgh Woolen Mill is considering moving its corporate base to Carlisle with a multi-million pound overhaul of a vacant office building in the city centre.

It is looking at taking over Rufus House in Castle Street, a huge building in the city's Historic Quarter which has stood empty for about three years.

Carlisle City Council leader Colin Glover described the potential move as "excellent news for the city" with others believing it will be a massive boost for other businesses in the Historic Quarter.

A planning application shows that the refurbishment project would include creating a new top floor and a redesigned front for the building. It will be considered in due course by the city council.

It is understood the proposed move would not affect their shop in English Street and warehousing at Kingmoor Park. However, it is unclear what the future of the firm's current base in Langholm will be.

The company, which has 265 high street stores, applied to the city council for business rates relief, an incentive designed to make large empty "hard to let" premises more attractive to firms.

At a meeting of the authority's ruling executive on Monday, councillors agreed to grant the rates discount for two years on the condition the company committed to occupying the building for a minimum of five years.

A report produced for the meeting stated that the applicant stressed their intention to remain in Rufus House for "significantly in excess of the required five years".

A spokeswoman for Edinburgh Woolen Mill said: "Equorium Property Company Limited, who is the owner of Rufus House has investigated a number of options throughout the UK for additional office space for The Edinburgh Woollen Mill Group to support the continued growth and expansion, with the acquisition of various businesses in recent years.

"Rufus House is one of many options still under consideration by The Edinburgh Woollen Mill Group."

Les Tickner, the city council's finance portfolio holder, presented the report.

He said: "The head office operations will see approximately 300 staff work from Rufus House and whilst not all of these will be new - some existing staff working at their present site in the Scottish Borders will be able to commute to Carlisle - a number of new jobs will potentially be created.

"This is another example of confidence in the city from Edinburgh Woolen Mill."

Dr Tickner also said the council had been in talks with the company for a while and they met the criteria for business rates relief.

"At the moment the building is empty, dilapidated and we're getting nothing," he added.

Heather Bradley, who holds the city council's brief on the economy, said: "It's another national company which is looking to locate to Carlisle and reflects the recognition of the city and what it has to offer.

"There will obviously be a spin off from the business there in the Historic Quarter because of the number of staff working there."